Locals to Know: Emily Darchuk

Emily Darchuk is the founder and food scientist behind Wheyward Spirit, a company that makes a one-of-a-kind spirit from whey. It breaks the mold of traditional spirits, while tasting delicious and eliminating gallons of food waste. Emily is all about engaging with the sustainable food community, connecting with her local community, sipping on a good cocktail and getting outside; she couldn’t more embody Portland in our mind. You can find her around town at Portland Cocktail Week and OMSI After Dark events, but in the meantime, let’s get to know her!

Tell us about your work!

I am a food scientist and founder of Wheyward Spirit, a more sippable and sustainable specialty spirit where you can taste a difference and make a difference. It’s handcrafted from upcycled whey, so you can feel good about what’s in your glass knowing that you are helping fight food waste one sip at a time with an incredibly smooth and versatile signature flavor designed for sipping on the rocks or in your favorite cocktail. Aside from running a business, I am very involved with the sustainable food community, speaking on panels across the country and serving as a board member on the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business 40 under 40 board. 

Pick a favorite local outdoor experience. What is it? What’re we doing? Who’s going with ya?

I love to go hiking with the dogs on any trails along the Gorge and love to go on an annual Portland-to-Cascade Locks boat trip along the Willamette and Columbia rivers. It’s absolutely gorgeous and you get to see a different side of Portland, including a glimpse of all the industry in the ports, all the downtown bridges from a new angle, plus all the waterfalls along the Gorge (without the crowds!) and traveling through locks at the Bonneville Dam, which is absolutely wild.

What’s your favorite local Instagram or TikTok account and why?

High Proof Preacher is one of the best for cocktail photography and recipes, making mixology and cocktails beautiful and approachable. 

If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

There are a ton of fantastic farm-to-table restaurants locally and one I have been eating at for the past 10 years is Bistro 23 in NE Portland. I love enjoying their grilled polenta, fresh salads and of course a great handcrafted cocktail! 

What’s a project you’re working on (big or small) and how can our readers help you with it?

We want Wheyward Spirit at all of your favorite liquor stores, bars, and restaurants! Every bottle offsets gallons of waste and has a Double Gold award-winning flavor that makes fantastic cocktails behind the bar and in the home. Readers can help by stopping into their local liquor stores and bars and requesting Wheyward Spirit on the shelves by telling them to special order Wheyward Spirit – 5673B. They can also visit our website for home delivery or visit the OLCC liquor finder website to search for local stores that carry our product.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Events are just ramping up across the country and the in-person energy is so amazing! It’s great to see friendly faces back in person. An upcoming local event we are looking forward to is Portland’s Food Waste Week in June, which we are so excited to be a part of alongside Imperfect Foods and local restaurants aligned with our mission to prevent food waste. We are also looking forward to the return of Portland Cocktail Week in November and OMSI After Dark events!

Interested in learning more about Wheyward Spirit? Want to connect with Emily? You can learn more at their website, or by following them on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Know of a person or organization that we ought to feature? Send us an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Bridgeliner, Locals to Know,” and you could see their name in an upcoming newsletter!